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Ranking This Year’s Razzie Nominees

Ranking This Year’s Razzie Nominees (photo)

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It’s been a tradition for over thirty years: the day before Hollywood celebrates its best at the Academy Awards a bunch of fanatical movie lovers gather to roast its worst at the Golden Raspberry Awards. Founded in 1981 by John Wilson, the Razzies, as they’re more commonly known, are dedicated to ‘giving the raspberry’ to the most shameful and soulless travesties the movie industry has foisted upon us in a given year.

Though their intentions to dishonor crummy movies are honorable, like any award-bestowing body, the Razzies don’t always get it right. Literally anybody with $35 bucks can join and vote, which means that hypothetically somebody in the movie business with a chip on his shoulder and some cash to burn could easily buy a couple thousand votes and screw with people he didn’t like (look for more of that story that in my soon-to-be-Razzie-nominated screenplay “Razzmatazz,” coming soon to a discount DVD bin near you).

More problematically, the awards tend to skew towards the inexplicably popular rather than the truly putrid. They went on this weird anti-Sylvester Stallone jag in the 1980s where every movie he made, good or bad, got nominated; “Rambo: First Blood Part II” even won the Worst Picture Razzie of 1985. Now “Rambo”‘s not exactly a masterpiece — okay, so in my book it is, but I know that’s the minority view — but the worst film of the year? That makes no sense, as does the fact that “Rocky IV” was also nominated for Worst Picture that year. That seems to have less to do with Stallone’s movies than some weird vendetta against him as a filmmaker. Did he kill the Razzies’ children or something? Some of their other picks are just head-scratchers: how in the world did “The Wicker Man” lose out to “Basic Instinct 2?” HOW DID IT LOSE? HOW DID IT LOSE? (That was my Nicolas Cage in “Wicker Man” impression by the way. It’s funny when I do it in person, I swear).

So the Razzies, like the films they skewer, aren’t perfect. So how did they do this year? Let’s examine the 2010 nominees for Worst Picture listed (in my opinion) from least worst to worstest worst.


02222011_eclipse1.jpgLeast Worst:
“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”
Directed by David Slade

A classic Razzie popular-over-putrid pick. “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” like “Rambo,” will never make an AFI Top 100 list. But that doesn’t mean it was one of the worst movies of the year, or even of this series (saga, sorry; I forget sometimes). I suspect there isn’t a lot of overlap between “Twilight”‘s target audience and the Razzies’ voting block (if there was, after all, “Eclipse” wouldn’t make the cut). But again, that doesn’t necessarily place the movie on par with this year’s other Razzie nominees. Clearly this movie does something right — all the marketing in the world can’t sell $700 million dollars worth of tickets if the movie is unwatchable. Director David Slade wrang about as much suspense as can be had from a movie about a bunch of people sitting around in the woods waiting for something to happen (no, this is not a dig at “Harry Potter.” Okay, it totally is). And say what you will about stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner: they have chemistry. Like it or not, that’s what the audiences keeps coming back for.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? No. If neither of the previous, lesser “Twilight” movies were nominated — and they weren’t — then this one definitely didn’t deserve to be.


02222011_airbend1.jpgWeirdest Worst:
“The Last Airbender”

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Shyamalan is another Razzie “favorite” — his last three films have all been nominated for Worst Picture and if I had to guess, I’d say this year is his best chance yet of taking home the gold (spray-painted raspberry). His sins this time were legion: his white-washed casting of his adaptation of a racially diverse cartoon series inspired a new term — “racebending” — and the kids he chose for the parts, supposedly because they were the “best actors,” turned out to be charmless duds. Even worse, he allowed his film, which was shot with very shallow focus in mostly dark locations, to be post-converted to 3D which, in its best moments, just looked like a dimmer version of a 2D movie and, in its worst moments, was so murky it was basically incomprehensible. He also tried to cram a season’s worth of plot from the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series into a single movie, leading to some truly inexplicable storytelling choices, including massive chronological leaps bridged by clunky narration. AND YET! All of these things added up to what I felt was one of the more interesting failures of 2010. Only a director as talented and as powerful as Shyamalan could get away with releasing something this weird, with a story that explains everything except why we should care about anything that’s happening. And that can be fascinating to watch.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? In my opinion, no. I would watch “The Last Airbender” again. Not in 3D, mind you, but I would watch it again, even just to study it the way a med student watches a surgery: you get in there with the blood and the guts and you find out what went wrong and what you have to do to fix it.


02222011_vampsuck1.jpgUnfunniest Worst
“Vampires Suck”
Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer

Writer/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are no strangers to the Razzies either: two years ago they were nominated twice for Worst Feature for both “Meet the Spartans” and “Disaster Movie.” They make spoofs — I want to write “They make spoofs, sort of like ‘Airplane!’ or ‘The Naked Gun,'” but that would imply their films were funny like those movies, or that they even contain jokes like those movies, and they usually don’t. No, their brand of “comedy” is based solely on referencing the fact that things exist. They make movies the way McBain on “The Simpsons” does standup comedy: “Did you ever notice how men always leave the toilet seat up? [pause] That’s the joke.” In the case of their latest, “Vampires Suck,” the “joke” is that there are these movies called “Twilight” that teenagers really like in which all of the characters are sullen and pale and kind of dopey. That’s essentially it: Friedberg and Seltzer cast look-alikes, put them in locations that are look-alikes, and occasionally throw in a “Family Guy”-style tangential pop culture reference (“Hey look! People who sorta look like the cast of ‘Jersey Shore!’ In a movie set in the Pacific Northwest! Well they don’t belong there! Isn’t that a goof and a guffaw?”). Still, by the standards of Friedberg and Seltzer’s own filmography, “Vampires Suck” is a bit of an improvement: their lead actress, Jenn Proske, does an impressive job poking fun at Kristen Stewart’s ample acting tics, and there are a couple of genuinely funny jokes in this one. That doesn’t mean the movie’s worth watching, but there are signs this could be Friedberg and Seltzer’s last Razzie nomination for a while.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? Yes. Maybe not worthy of a Razzie win, but definitely a nomination.


02222011_bounty1.jpgLaziest Worst
“The Bounty Hunter”
Directed by Andy Tennant

It is hard to imagine the depths of awfulness of “The Bounty Hunter” until you’ve experienced it yourself. From the outside, it looked like another glossy romantic comedy: nothing more, nothing less than a couple of beautiful stars and some crisp cinematography in a high concept story about a couple of bickering exes who fall back in love when he’s sent to bring her to justice after she skips out on her bail. But something went very, very wrong on the way to theaters here. Fundamentally, this sort of movie needs leads with chemistry and Butler and Aniston just don’t have it. They’re supposed to have been married and divorced but there’s no sense of a shared history or even basic familiarity between them; I’ve seen more passionate interpersonal relationships between coffee drinkers and their regular barista. Also: why can’t Gerard Butler just be Scottish in his movies? He’s a fine actor when he’s allowed to use his natural Scottish accent. When you make him pretend to be American, that’s exactly what he sounds like: a Scottish guy pretending to be American. Put these two mismatched stars in a plot that’s all clichés and coincidences and you get one enormous waste of time, a movie both about — and evidence of — the sad lengths Butler will go to for a paycheck.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? Absolutely. This movie never aimed higher than forgettable entertainment and wound up doing so little of interest it became unforgettably terrible.


02222011_satc3.jpgWorstest Worst
“Sex and the City 2”
Directed by Michael Patrick King

In what has to be an intentional dig at the film, the official Razzie website lists “Sex and the City 2” as “Sex & The City #2” as if to suggest that this movie is, basically, a big pile of crap. I can’t disagree, and this isn’t a case like “Eclipse” of a guy bashing something that’s simply not intended for him: even longtime “SATC” fans like my wife were horrified by this movie (“Why would they do this?” was her quote, I believe). This second feature film continuation of the popular HBO series about four women and their New York City love lives begins with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda attending a wedding that my grandmother would have described as ungapatchka, Yiddish for lavish to the point of tackiness: there are swans and an all-male choir and Liza Minnelli performing the ceremony and a carefully choreographed rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” And, really, that wedding is the perfect metaphor for the whole movie, which is ungapatchka to the extreme — garish, petty, and shallow. I recognize there’s an element of fantasy in the fact that none of the four leads ever wear an article of clothing for more than a single scene (somehow they even change clothes in the middle of a camel ride through the desert), but that fantasy must be grounded in some sort of concern for these characters, concern which I lost right around the time the women began complaining how hard it is to be a mother while boozing it up at the most luxurious hotel in the world while their nannies watch their kids for them.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? Oh God, yes. And if it wins, I hope the Razzie Award is presented to the film in a knockoff Gucci bag for the occasion.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

geowash_flat

Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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